Debate: What is the criteria for a player to be called an Arsenal Legend?

What makes a club legend?  by Jonbo

My friends and I were at the pub yesterday chatting rubbish as usual, until we stumbled upon an interesting subject. How is a player considered a club legend?

I thought this would make a great subject for discussion, as I imagine the majority of Arsenal fans would be in agreement on what players qualify as a club legend, but we may have different parameters when quantifying a player’s legendary status.

We may all have different factors to consider when judging a player, but I feel the five elements I have chosen cover most ground. All elements have to be applied to each player. E.g. One could have a player who massively contributed to the club’s success over a long period of time, making them a legend, but then moved to a rival, and continually slagged your club off. Would they still be a legend?

Key Elements to consider

Length of time at club


Trophies won


Playing for a rival club


Length of time at club

I cannot decide how important this is? If I had to pick a minimum time spent at a club, maybe 4 years, but then you could have a player at a club for just 2 or 3 years, and be absolutely amazing! Tough one to call.


One can have a player at a club for a very long time, winning tons of trophies, but should he be considered a legend if he wasn’t playing that much? I think a player needs a fair amount of game time.

Trophies won 

A bit like “how long is a player’s career at a club”, “trophies won” is difficult to judge the importance of. E.g. Fabregas only won an FA Cup at Arsenal, but consistently gave us brilliant performances, over a long period of time. And we’ve seen pretty average/rubbish players win the biggest prizes around, just look at some of the players that won the CL with Liverpool 04/05 season. Are they all legends because of that historic victory over Milan?


Did the player have a good attitude playing for us? If he did leave the club before retiring, was it amicable? Does it affect his status as a legend, what a player gets up to in their personal life? Ryan Giggs anyone?

Playing for a rival club

I know some fans that are very clear on this one. If you play for a direct rival, you’re finished as a legend, especially if you move directly to that rival. The anger is tempered somewhat, with a transfer or two inbetween.

Considering the 5 elements I have chosen (although you may have more or less), I thought it would be interesting and a bit of fun to see who is a legend out of a short list I have chosen. These are players that divide opinion about their legendary status, and not all are Arsenal players (which obviously makes it harder. So who is and isn’t a club legend.

Cesc Fabregas – Arsenal Legend

We got 7 excellent seasons from him, during a difficult period at Arsenal as the club dramatically regressed after dismantling the “The Invincibles” in a blink of an eye, and for what for? He didn’t leave the club in the best of ways, reportedly refusing to train and play, and there was also the Barcelona shirt incident with his Spanish teammates. He later played for Chelsea as well.

For me, he’s a legend. Given how good he was, and how poor Arsenal were becoming year by year, he could have easily left us many years earlier. He was unbelievably good, right from day one, and it’s a shame we couldn’t build a team around him. Playing for Chelsea hurt a little, but it wasn’t a direct move.

Gareth Bale – Real Madrid Legend

It’s very difficult for a non Madrid fan to answer this, but I think he goes down as a Real Madrid legend, but only by the skin of his teeth. Missed a lot of football due to injury, possibly feigning the severity of injuries to keep fit for Wales, and attitude problems, which has angered some Madrid fans. On the positive side, brilliant when fit, scored really important goals in huge games, and played a big role in the greatest Champions League team we’ve ever seen!

Liverpool’s so-called “lesser” names in the historic 04/05 Champions League victory –  Not Liverpool Legends

When I say “lesser” names, I am referring to players such as: Finnan, Traore, Baros, Cisse, Smicer, etc. They all played a major role in what is considered the greatest final of all time, and deserve recognition for that, but does one historic victory make these players legends, given their otherwise very ordinary Liverpool careers? The majority of my Liverpool friends say no, although if it was Liverpool’s first ever European Cup success, then possibly they could have been considered legends?


What are your thoughts, and are there many Arsenal legends we could name from the last decade? Not many that I can think of.


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  1. My observation is it will be difficult to have players with all these attributes.
    Yeah they are few with all, but I think most of them don’t have all the criteria mentioned.
    But 3 out of these criteria will do for me, without necessarily having to choose among them.

    In addition, I think we should give less attention to players lifestyle out of football as longer as it doesn’t affect the brand they represent or their performance for that brand.

  2. It’s an EPL, CL or EL trophy for me. Only the Invincibles won EPL in the last two decades, so I only consider the key players of that team as legends

    The other players who just won minor trophies, such as Fabregas, Cazorla, Ozil and Sanchez, aren’t my legendary players

    1. @gotanidea

      The Santi one hurts me the most. He definitely had the potential to go down as a legend if it wasn’t for the injuries.

      1. Arsenal should’ve kept him as a CAM instead of signing Ozil in 2013/14, because he scored twelve EPL goals in 2012/13. We could’ve won EPL if he was still our focal point

        1. I understand where you are coming from, but you wouldn’t say no for the kind of player ozil was then. He was world class to begin with and the clubs also made a huge money from his shirt being sold.
          With ozil, we ended the trophy drought as well.
          Personally I rated Cazorla to be a more complete player than ozil, but ozil of real Madrid was on another level above. Hence the purchase made sense then.

          And in honestly we couldn’t be closer to win the league, and we have not been in a decade even though we miraculously finished second once and we are very far from being as at present.

          1. Actually, the shirt manufacturers are making more money from the shirt sales, as compared to the clubs. Several articles and YouTube videos have exposed the details about this

            However, Ozil has turned many people into Arsenal fans, so I bet the club got some profit from other channels. From financial and popularity standpoints, he improved Arsenal in his first season

  3. Mark Noble has won nothing from what I remember but is an absolutely legend and a great professional.

  4. To me there are different types of Legends.
    Not all Legends have to have won trophies for a Club.. So that means that smaller clubs that will never win these massive trophies will never have Legends?

    For the Big clubs i do think Legends should be guaged on how many trophies they have won at their clubs. How long were they at the club.. How relatable (bond) to they share with the Fanbase etc..

    I think the likes of Fabregas etc can be labelled as Great Arsenal players, Cult heroes etc..

    1. I agree. For me it is length of the time at a club, contribution and character. Cesc is a legend for me and so is RVP.

      Every club has their own legends even smaller ones without any trophy.

  5. Talent as well as character. I know the names of Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon don’t readily slip off the tongue but they always fought for the club and wore the shirt with pride. Wrighty was another. Adams is another
    Of course DB and TH have legendary status too Their talent was truly sublime at a time of beautiful football at Arsenal

    Stevie G at Liverpool and Aguero at City as well.

    1. 👍 SueP, David O’Leary is one who comes to mind at Arsenal.
      Similarly Matt Le Tissier at Southampton; what a one club player!

  6. Being pedantic for a minute, it’s “what ARE the criteria”.

    One criterion, many criteria.

    P.S. I’m always impressed that you get it right when you say a club IS doing whatever instead of a club ARE (since a club is singular), so please don’t take this the wrong way! Just trying to help.

    1. Ah bless ! A fellow pedant.
      But, to be serious , using our rich English language CORRECTLY does give those of who love the language an advantage over the incorrect users.

  7. For me, length of time, contributions and character should be considered as being criteria for being a legend. The number of goals is not on my cards. Length of time is all about loyalty to the club. That is even when the player has the opportunity to leave the club, he stayed put. Vardy of Liescester comes to mind. Contributions is the number of times you wore the club’s shirt and performs incredibly well. The player may not be a starter all the time but a game changer whenever he is introduced. Fabregas, Henry et Al comes to mind. Character of a player on and off the pitch is another. Quiet and obedient player who is ready to learn, a player who is ready to defend the club at any time and a player who will not say anything that tarnished the image of the club even after leaving the club makes my list. I consider such players as legends to their various clubs.

      1. Sk, no doubt in my eyes. Gilberto Silva, the class DM who has never been replaced at Arsenal.

  8. To me its about how well the players perform that’s why I consider Cazorla and Rosicky as Arsenal Legends

  9. Yeah would be a bit harsh to require an individual player to have won a team competition. For me, I think it matters if they could have played for our best sides and could do extraordinary things. Fabregas fits the bill for me.

  10. Legendary status is a little different for me, it should never be surrounded by controversy but easily recognized.

    A legend is a loyal battle hardened campaigner who fought tooth and nail for years, dosen’t really matter if one hadn’t score a single goal in his life time,

  11. Aside the obvious ones, Carzola, Rosisky, Kanu, Marc Overmas, Lee Dixon, Jens Lehman, etc, are all Legends to me.

    Cesc, VP, Sanchez, Ozil are good players that played for us. In fact, About Diaby is more legendary to me than they.

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